Germany to increase support for UN Central Emergency Response Fund

Foreign Minister Maas at the event “The Central Emergency Response Fund: A fund for all by all” in New York

Foreign Minister Maas at the event “The Central Emergency Response Fund: A fund for all by all” in New York, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

26.09.2018 - Article

On the fringes of the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Maas announced that Germany’s commitment to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is to be stepped up. Having now pledged 90 million euros for 2018, Germany will be the fund’s biggest donor.

CERF is an important source of humanitarian funding for the United Nations. In the event of a crisis, it delivers money for humanitarian measures quickly and without excessive red tape. Precisely because releasing funding often involves delays, it therefore plays a fundamental role in the UN humanitarian system.

Thanks to the way it works, CERF can respond extremely promptly to humanitarian emergencies. In New York, Foreign Minister Maas emphasised how important that is, saying: “Humanitarian assistance needs to get underway as soon as humanitarian disasters are on the horizon. That enables us to save more lives, prevent unnecessary suffering and help those affected to retain their dignity, even in the midst of disaster. CERF plays a key role in this regard.”

How does Germany support CERF?

Germany has supported CERF for many years, constantly increasing its contributions over the past few years. In addition, Germany is always trying to mobilise additional funding and donors for CERF.

Germany is lobbying for CERF to focus more on supporting preventive humanitarian assistance in future, by making money available to humanitarian aid organisations even before a natural disaster or crisis hits. Increasingly it is becoming possible to predict natural disasters such as droughts, hurricanes, heavy rains, cold waves, etc. so early that people in the affected regions can be provided with humanitarian assistance even before they are impacted. This approach enhances the effectiveness of aid and is much cheaper than purely reactive assistance.

What is CERF?

Since its establishment in 2006, CERF has financed life saving humanitarian measures in 101 states to the tune of over 5.3 billion US dollars in total. It supports more than 20 million suffering people each year.

It has two major functions. First, it provides the UN humanitarian organisations with the funding to respond quickly to acute humanitarian crises. Secondly, it ensures that the necessary humanitarian aid measures can be funded even in those humanitarian emergencies which the public and the international community have lost sight of (“forgotten crises”).

For example, in 2016 and 2017 CERF facilitated early, rapid humanitarian assistance in the famine disasters caused by drought and conflict in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and north east Nigeria. So far in 2018, CERF has funded emergency aid particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (52.6 million US dollars), Yemen (49.9 million US dollars) and Ethiopia (30.29 million US dollars). A total of more than 500 million US dollars is available to CERF in 2018.

How is CERF financed?

CERF’s budget is made up of the annual voluntary contributions from the current 126 UN member states. Given the growing need for humanitarian assistance worldwide, the international community decided in 2016 to gradually raise CERF’s annual budget to up to a billion US dollars. In increasing its contribution to 90 million euros, Germany expects other states, too, to meet their responsibility and play their part to ensure that CERF can continue to fulfil its role as a major humanitarian funding instrument.


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